And The Lord Speaketh:  “Before the wedding the groom must have fun.”

There were no bachelor parties when I was busy getting married. There were “stags, ” nights concocted by married elders now looking for a way to get out of their houses.

Mine was held on the eighth floor of Rockside’s Ramada Inn. Sure my friends were there, but memories are only of uncles Ben and Phil and my dad.; (It was the first post-divorce event compelling my mom’s side of the family to be nice to my father). And there was a stripper, but I didn’t care. She was for the altacockers, not me.

A generation later things have changed; Stacy blanches if I even utter the word “stag.” They are BACHELOR PARTIES. And we’re not talking one night, we’re speaking days. And we’re not speaking local, we’re now on location. Jason’s location was some remote area of Wisconsin overlooking Lake Geneva. So be it.

It really didn’t matter. When the bell rings… Just as the ladies flocked to Stacy’s shower, the men followed suit. Michael from New York, Hal and I from Cleveland. All for Jason’s Last Hurrah. Family, friends and bug spray.

It was also a further demonstration of the fact that it really doesn’t matter what you do so long as you do it with people you love. For me it was a weekend with my son and brother, sandwiched between chunks of time with my soon-to-be-Bohrered baby.

It was a weekend where, if I WASN”T with loved ones, well, as Michael is fond of saying: “Just shoot me now!”

But I loved every moment of it.

Even in Chicago before we headed to the hills. Stace picked us up at the airport, and over lunch the trio urged me to go directly for an eye exam; (I’d been postponing it for a few years-10); it was time. In truth, I’d been having difficulty telling hearts from diamonds lately, and have been compelled to sit center table. So, bullied I went, but for my own good.

The camaraderie was compelling as I tried on frames, EVEN as all three laughed at how big my nose is.

“Dad, until you put on the black ones I never noticed,” chided Stacy. She compared my nose to a pimple she spots on her forehead. “Once I see it Dad, it’s all I see.”

Ah, togetherness.

Later Friday Jason’s dad drove the men up to the cabin. With Michael in shotgun and Hal having 120 songs on his cell phone, it was three hours of “Name That Tune.” The thrust of the songs were from our glory days: Four Seasons, Doowap, early BeeGees. My brother and Jason’s dad shared music trivia. As for Michael, well let’s just say that if one listened closely you could hear the gentle whisper from passenger front….in a hush….of “Just shoot me now.”

Arrival at the compound was nondescript. The night consisted of hamburgers and poker. Hal and I bunked together and were asleep by 1AM (Cleveland time).

Saturday morning came too soon. Half-awake I stumbled into the shower and noticed I’d forgotten toothpaste. Sticking my head out I found my brother to be very accommodating as he handed me his. Five minutes later I knew why. While showering I applied the paste to the brush. It looked thicker then usual. Oily. Stepping out of the stall I noticed the box. He’d given me hemroid cream. And Good Shabbos to you too Uncle Harold!
Good sport that I am, I dressed and hiked the mile or so to buy a new toothbrush and toothpaste. Who says I can’t take a joke? Or rough it?

Bogarts are not meant for camping, to be sure. Even more so, Jews have no business being on boats.

Saturday’s plan was for the boys to be on a pontoon. A pontoon! True, Hal and I had pictured a wooden raft with no motor, and we were surprised to find this vessel had a few cushioned seats…but still….a pontoon! What the F do Jews do on a pontoon?

I now know the answer: we sit.

I sat next to Hal; Michael was near. Once the thing went out to sea Jason and his men jumped overboard to swim; the elders stayed aboard and did what we do best: we sat.

But it was relaxing, and it was fun. All of it.

Even when the boat broke down and we couldn’t move it. Even when we had to call the pontoon rental outfit to be towed in. Even then.

It was all fun.

There is something precious about being with Michael and Hal that makes every event special. We are each different, but we truly “get” each other.

Michael slams my shirt.
“Moshe,” says Hal: “Bogarts never had fashion sense.”
“Burn the shirt, Dad.”

Little inside stuff; innocuous comments. Family poking. Love.
This glue cannot be manufactured. The adhesive is love.
And when people love, they find fun in even the greatest of shipwrecks.

Like we did Saturday….as we drifted ashore on Lake Geneva.

4 Responses to “HAPPY TOGETHER”

  1. JS says:

    I am glad mine didn’t have

  2. JS says:

    Bad nephews for leaving your Aunt to fend for herself all weekend.

  3. Aunt Helen says:


    Sometimes you don’t know whereof you speaketh. Jews are not people of the boat? Are you implying that we are not people of adventure and wonder? How dare you?

    From boats of days long gone (did you forget your favorite childhood song: “Moshe Row the Boat Ashore”) to our Space Ships of the Future (“May the Schwartz be with you”) we have always been a people who liked to venture beyond our comfort zone.

    Adventure is a part of our spirit. Have you conveniently forgotten that it was your very own Great Great Great Grandfather Shecky Bogacki who came up with the much plagiarized joke: Question: “Why did Moshe part the Red Sea?” Answer: “To get to the other side”

    One final thought. If Ma and Pa had not ventured across the Atlantic Ocean 88 years ago in that Royal Pontoonsky (first class, of course), you wouldn’t have been in Wisconsin last weekend to participate in Jason’s bachelor party.

    Enough, I say. Dayenu. Atah lo yodayah mah atah omar.

  4. bob says:

    What do you mean Jews don’t belong on Boats? Wasn’t Noah the most famous ship captain of all time? Wasn’t it Jonah that met the whale after being on a boat. And we all know the Captain from Moby Dick, Ahab, short for Abramam must have been Jewish. All those evil guys in literature in those days were Jews.

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